By Katherine Lambert MS, CNS, LDN
As a nutritionist I could go on and on about the benefits of eating more vegetables. They are loaded with the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrient compounds that are anti-inflammatory, cancer protective, gut nourishing, energy supporting, and anti-oxidant. Especially important for the Covid era and beyond – they contain vitamins and micronutrients essential for supporting a healthy immune system.
But really? Eat more vegetables. Is it that simple? Yes it is!
But can’t we just take supplements instead of eating vegetables? Well, yes you can and I do recommend specific supplements for therapeutic reasons. But they are supplements not substitutes.
For example you can take a supplement and get some of the nutrients you would find in parsley, but parsley and other colorful vegetables contain literally hundreds of plant compounds that have powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The science is still discovering more of these mighty helpers. Plus your body has evolved to recognize these life-enhancing components in food with all of its complexity and not as isolated compounds. Whether or not supplements are always absorbed and metabolized when taken out of the context of food is debatable.
Lastly vegetables fill you up without filling you out. In other words you can eat a lot of them without worrying about the effects on weight.
The trick is to find yummy and satisfying ways to prepare veggies. I love trying new recipes but have my favorite “go-tos” for just about every vegetable. My go-to for easy and fast method is called Steam-Sauté.
You can sub different ingredients but here’s the basic idea: in a skillet with a lid, add about 1/3 cup water, 1 or 2 tablespoons of fat, your cut up veggies and flavorings. Cook covered on medium high heat for about 5-10 minutes until the veggies are tender. Remove the lid, turn up the heat a little and finish with a sauté using the fat that you included at the start. Delicious and easy!
You can use this method with any firm vegetable, such as asparagus, Brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, turnips, cauliflower, and green beans. You can add garlic, spices, and dried herbs along with the water, fat, and salt. If using add fresh herbs when you uncover to sauté.
Steam-Sautéed Brussels Sprouts With Mustard And Caraway
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon (or less) maple syrup
- Freshly ground black pepper
Bring the Brussels sprouts, butter, water, salt, and caraway seeds to a boil in a large skillet. Cover and steam over medium-high heat until the Brussels sprouts are just tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the lid and stir in the mustard and maple syrup. Sprinkle with black pepper.
Steam-Sautéed Vegetables Basic Technique
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 pound green beans (or other vegetable), ends trimmed
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic and/or herbs or spices to taste
- Black pepper
Bring the water, oil, salt, green beans, and garlic to a boil in a skillet with sides. Cover and steam over medium-high heat until the vegetable is brightly colored and just tender, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the vegetable size.
Remove the lid and continue to cook until the liquid evaporates, 1 to 2 minutes longer. (If you want to add fresh herbs, this is the point to add them.) Sauté to intensify flavors, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Adjust salt if needed, add a sprinkling black pepper to taste, and serve.